Melasma is a common skin disorder. Loosely translated, the word means “black spot.” If you have melasma you’re probably experiencing light brown, dark brown and/or blue-gray patches on your skin. They can appear as flat patches or freckle-like spots. Commonly affected areas include your face, including the cheeks, upper lip and forehead, as well as the forearms. Melasma is sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy” because it frequently affects pregnant women. Melasma typically darkens and lightens over time, often getting worse in the summer and better in the winter.
Melasma causes patches of discoloration. The patches are darker than your usual skin color. It typically occurs on the face and is symmetrical, with matching marks on both sides of the face. Other areas of your body that are often exposed to sun can also develop melasma.
Brownish colored patches usually appear on the:
It can also occur on the neck and forearms. The skin discoloration doesn’t do any physical harm, but you may feel self-conscious about the way it looks.
The most commonly used treatments for melasma are skin lightening medications that are applied topically. These include medications such as hydroquinone, azelaic acid, kojic acid, niacinamide, cysteamine, rucinol, and tranexamic acid. These medications work by reducing pigment production and inflammation, and by reducing excess blood vessels in the skin that contribute to melasma.